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Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor is a great LOTR Batman game

Posted by warreni, in game review 05 March 2017 · 3363 views

Monolith Rocksteady Studios Warner Brothers Batman Arkham Lord of the Rings not-KB+M-friendly-games

Shadow of Mordor is essentially a Lord of the Rings Batman game. If they weren't both Warner Brothers games, you'd think Monolith ripped off Rocksteady in a major way. Detective Vision mode? Check. Hit counter in the upper left corner of the screen than turns red when you reach a speciifc count and triggers extra damage and special abilities? Check. Enemies you have to stun to damage? Check. The combat mimics an Arkham game in pretty much every meaningful way that you can conceive, so if you liked the Batman games, you'll probably enjoy at least some parts of Shadow of Mordor.


The game is also known for its pioneering Nemesis system, which mostly works well. The idea is that if you flee from or are killed by a specific Orc, he will a) probably get a promotion for killing you (which makes him stronger and gives him one or more resistances or immunities) and b) remember that he killed you or that you ran away from him. When you see that individual Orc or Uruk again, he will taunt you using a reference to that previous event, sometimes a specific one and sometimes just a general comment along the lines of "How many times do I have to kill you?" It's not perfect. While there is an in-game rationale for why your protagonist cannot truly be killed (it has to do with his connection to the One Ring), on several occasions I would see the same Uruk again after I had decapitated him earlier in the game, and he would just say something about it not being that easy to kill him. That doesn't really make any sense. Are these Orcs or vampires? Do you have to stuff their bodies with garlic and burn them as well?! (MINOR SPOILER ALERT) Near the end of the game, you will face the Orc who has killed you the greatest number of times in combat once again, even if you've already killed him multiple times--he is your Nemesis, according to the game, which presumably explains why he can't be killed either(!).


The game tells the story of Talion, a ranger watching over the borders of Mordor sometime before the events of the Lord of the Rings. Talion's wife and son are murdered by Orcs and the Black Hand of Sauron, and the elf-Wraith Celebrimbor merges with him at the time of his own execution. Together they carve a path of vengeance through Mordor to reach Sauron's lieutenants and destroy them.


The story and characters are interesting and the voice-acting is well-done. Graphically, the game is not outstanding, but I had to downgrade the quality a substantial amount so that it would run on my system. In addition to the main story, there are numerous side missions and collectibles and completing these gives you mirian, an in-game currency that allows you to unlock rune slots for your three weapons (dagger, sword, and bow) and abilities for Talion and the Wraith. The GOTY version of the game comes with a few extra "trials" missions, which are a bit like speed runs (i.e., defeat all 15 captains and 5 warchiefs in less than 60 minutes with various conditions attached), a few extra Orc clans, a nice "skin" for Talion, and two story DLCs, Lord of the Hunt and The Bright Lord.


The Lord of the Hunt reunites Talion with the dwarven hunter Torvin as he engages in a series of missions that culminate in defeating five special "beastmaster" Warchiefs. This DLC takes place on its own map and any runes and upgrades you've unlocked in the base game are available here. I didn't end up finishing this one, mostly because of the timed missions involved, which, for me, are the most annoying ones in the game (find and kill x Uruks in 90 seconds and variations on that theme).


The Bright Lord explores the background behind some of the events that are alluded to at the end of the base game and the fleshing-out of Celebrimbor's story here is very well-done. The only side missions are a series that provide you with a boost in the duration of the One Ring's abilities, one of which is, you guessed it, a timed mission with several sections. There are also War Letters to collect, and these are usually communications from one Orc to another about various monsters in the game world.


Overall, the game is quite a bit of fun, particularly as it makes good use of the source material. However, it had worn its welcome a bit thin by the time I reached the 68 hours it took me to finish the game and the DLCs. Combat is smooth and fluid if you have a gamepad, but, unlike the Batman games, the system is not at all conducive to a KB+M control scheme, and also unlike the Batman games, it will tend to throw a ludicrous number of enemies at you, probably at least in part because the protagonist doesn't really die at any point. Nonetheless, it's an easy recommendation to anyone who loves Tolkien or the Arkham series.

You're a couple years late lol

You're a couple years late lol

I published my review when I finished the game, so, not really, no. 



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